Dominion’s filing paints a stark picture of a channel absent the most fundamental journalistic principles.
Fox News stars privately called out Donald Trump’s 2020 election claims as bogus, even as they continued to be promoted on air, according to newly-released court documents.
Court filings in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit show that Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham all mocked the lies from Trump’s camp claiming that the election was stolen.
Dominion is a major manufacturer of U.S. voting equipment.
A company-wide issue
The filing, which includes communications between a range of Fox employees who were involved in the election coverage, shows that producers, executives, and even the network’s most famous faces were well aware that Trump’s claims were fraudulent.
In one text, Carlson told Ingraham that Sidney Powell, an attorney representing the Trump campaign, was “lying” and that he had “caught her” doing so. Ingraham replied: “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy [Giuliani].”
“Our viewers are good people and they believe it,” Carlson added, apparently making it evident that he did not.
According to the filing, Hannity said: “That whole narrative that Sidney was pushing. I did not believe it for one second.”
Powell is yet to comment on the revelations.
Murdoch was worried about the false election claims
Apparently, Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News, also did not believe Trump’s claims, and even suggested getting Carlson, Hannity, and Ingraham on air together to declare Joe Biden the winner.
Such an act “would go a long way to stop the Trump myth that the election stolen,” he said.
On one occasion, while watching Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell on television, Murdoch remarked to Suzanne Scott, chief executive of Fox News Media: “Terrible stuff damaging everybody, I fear.”
Fox fires back
“There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan,” Fox said in a statement following the release of the documents on Thursday evening.
In its counterclaim, also filed on Thursday, Fox asserted that Trump’s election claims were “undeniably newsworthy,” and that Dominion has taken samples of the channel’s coverage out of context.
“Dominion’s lawsuit is an assault on the First Amendment and the free press,” the filing reads per NBC News. “The record shows that Dominion’s central allegations are factually unfounded, legally unsound, or both.”
“In its coverage, Fox News fulfilled its commitment to inform fully and comment fairly,” the brief said per The New York Times. “Some hosts viewed the president’s claims skeptically; others viewed them hopefully; all recognized them as profoundly newsworthy.”
Fears of losing their audience
Dominion’s filing nevertheless paints a stark picture of a channel absent the most fundamental journalistic principles. As CNN notes, it shows how worried Fox News executives and hosts were about losing their audience to the smaller Newsmax channel, which was liberally promoting election denial after the election.
Carlson even tried to get White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich, who’d fact-checked a Trump tweet claiming election fraud, fired.
“Please get her fired,” Carlson told Hannity via text. “Seriously … what the f**k? I’m actually shocked … It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company.”